Books about dogs

Books about dogs

I read Cesar Millan’s Be the Pack Leader with great interest. My dog and I have a special bond and always want to learn more about dog psychology. This book helped me understand more about Smash’s need to have a strong leader. It also helped me understand Smash’s desire to be first on the trail when we are hiking and how he needs to have a purpose in life to feel fulfilled.

Before I read Cesar’s book, I never realized the inbred need to have a purpose that dogs have. I know I must have a definite purpose in order to feel good about my self, but I never thought about Smash needing one. I thought he was content just to lie around and eat between walks to the creek.

I began helping Smash to find his definite purpose. I noticed that he is very loving and affectionate with me, my friends and family. He strikes and aggressive pose toward strangers however. I realized that he has a natural tendency toward being a guard dog. I now tell him every night as I go to bed that he is to be on guard dog duty. He seems to really like having a job. I can also tell him as I leave the house to be a good guard dog and he instantly wags his tails and prances around proudly. If I neglect to tell him to be on guard dog duties, he will whine and try to go jump in the truck with me.

I have also found that if he barks at night, he will only get louder if I try to ignore him. If I go outside and compliment him on his good guard dog barking, He will prance around proudly before settling down with very little more barking.

I think Smash is a pretty well-adjusted dog. He seems happy living he rural life where he is free to run and explore. But he really does seem to like having a job. I would not have thought of that if I had not read Cesar’s book.

Recently I read Jack London’s Call of the Wild. I was sure I had read it before but if I had I am sure I would have remembered that the story is written from the dog’s point of view. The story is told by Buck the St Barnard German Shepard mix that is stolen from his comfy home and is sold to be a sled dog in Alaska. Buck’s travels, trial and tribulations are the story up until the point where he heeds the call of the wild and joins and eventually becomes the leader of a wolf pack.

In reading Call of the Wild, I began to wonder if Cesar got some of his ideas about dog behavior from this classic novel. In the story, Buck and the other sled dogs have a strong sense of duty. In some cases the dogs preferred to die in the sled traces rather than running free because they had such a strong sense of duty to their jobs.

The pecking order of dogs is explained from the dog’s point of view as well. Each dog had its place it the sled traces or in the wolf pack. If a dog stepped out of line or exceeded his boundaries, he was punished by the other dogs. If he needs helped, he as aided by the other dogs; but only if he had earned the help.

Bucks struggles to earn his leadership position are clearly document in the book. Buck earns the lead dog spot in a violent struggle and refuses to accept any other position once he earned it in the way of the dogs.

Another book by London – White Fang – documents more clearly the life of the wolf or the wild dog. While it never says so explicitly, the reader is lead to assume that the wolf in the story if a direct descendant of Buck. The struggles of her cub to learn the hard facts of life are the subject of the book. However, again London gives details of the way that the order if kept in the wolf pack and how each member has to earn his own place in the pack.

Reading these books has helped me learn more about Smash and how to relate to him. It has also helped me learn more about myself and how I can better elate to others around me. Cesar used the term “calmly assertive” when describing how to relate to a dog. I think this is a good way to approach many situations in life.

The metaphysicians teach us to form an image of our desired outcome in our minds before taking action. Being calmly assertive requires this image. By knowing what outcome you want and being assertive enough to make it happen cause many more positive outcomes than simply waiting for something good to happen. This way of thinking allows a person to take control of many situations that otherwise appear to be out of control.

In White Fang, London talks about how the wolf cub lives in the moment. He eats when there is meat and he goes hungry and goes hunting when there is no food. He does not stop to complain or worry, he just goes hunting.

I think we can learn a lot from dogs. The two most import lessons I see from these books is to live in the moment and have a definite purpose in life.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Book review

I had heard about Atlas Shrugged for years but I had never read the book. In fact, I did not even know the story. However, lately I kept hearing more and more about he book so I decided to read it for myself.

While the book was published in 1957, I often felt as if I were reading today’s news. The subject of government interference in business and the idea of two percent of the population doing all the work so that the other 98 percent can live must be timeless.

There were parts that were uncanny coincidences however as one day I read about a flood on the Missouri River in the book when there was actually a flood on the Missouri river in the news. Other aspects of too much government oversight of business seemed to be taken from the evening news as well.

While the book is probably designed to promote and explain her philosophy of Objectivism, I really enjoyed the story. The heroes of the story are business men and women with a passion for what they do. They battle the evil of moochers and looters and government regulations that try to sabotage their efforts.

My favorite character in the book is Hank Reardon who develops his own type of metal that is stronger and lighter than steel. In the story he overcomes huge obstacles to get his metal produced and accepted. I could feel his pride as he rides on the first train to run on rails made of his metal and crosses a bridge he designed.

I also loved the character of Dagny Taggert. She runs a railroad that is owned by her brother. She is an amazingly passionate woman. My favorite part of the story is when she offers to trade her diamond necklace for the bracelet that Hank Reardon made for his wife from the first batch of Reardon Metal. Dagny understands the significance of the bracelet that is lost on Hank’s gold digging wife.

Dangy’s character is also interesting because even though she is a powerful business woman, she understands what it is like to be a woman and Ayn Rand very clearly spells out Dagny’s feelings of be submissive to a powerful man. Those parts of the book could never have been written by a man. And, I am not surprised that Ayn was criticized for those writing in her time.

I really enjoyed the story of Dagny’s childhood showing that she had always had a vision of running a railroad. Her vision of the rails running off to a single point is repeated in the novel to help connect the reader to her vision. Her relations with her childhood friends continue to the very end of the 1000 page novel. I liked how the other women in the story don’t think of her as a threat because she is not the classical idea of beauty. However the men in her life love respect and desire her for her passion.

Ayn Rand’s insight into Dagny’s thoughts as she relates to her first lover offers a rare glimpse into the mind of a passionate woman. Men who desire to pursue a powerful woman could learn a lot from the pages. Ayn reveals what most women refuse to even believe about themselves, much less share with the men in their lives.

As the story develops, men, and a few women, of action and ability begin to systematically disappear form business and life. Having been frustrated with the task of trying to keep a factory running despite its management, I can clearly relate to the frustration expressed by those who choose to disappear in the story.

The character that helped me understand business leaders who fail to lead was Dagny’s brother Jim Taggert. In the story, Jim is the one who inherits the rail road from their father. However it is Dagny that actually keep s it running. Jim is too busy playing politics and working the social angle to know what it takes to kept he trains running. For the first time, I have been able to begin to understand the managers who ran the last corporation I worked for into the ground. I had assumed that because they were powerful business men, that they would share a passion for running the business. But, no, like Jim Taggert in the story, they were more concerned with stock deals and political maneuvering than they were with actually making the product that had made the corporation what is was when they took over.

I am very glad that Ayn Rand put so much detain into what could have been a minor character, because it has helped me understand the mind set of this type of business leader. I realize that I will probably be no more successful; that Dagny was in negotiating with her brother when I try to go against one of them but knowing how they think will clearly help me in securing my position.

While difficult to read at times, I found Atlas Shrugged impossible to put down. There were times when she lapsed into more of a philosophical rant than told the story, but I enjoyed it all none the less. The famous speak by John Galt near the end I elected to listen to on You Tube rather than read. The speech is three hours long but has some really interesting points. However it has nothing to do with her story except that he said it and he was able to take over the air waves to make the broadcast.

The ending of the story was a bit anti climactic after all the build up. However after over 1000 pages, I was ready for the story to end.

The copy of the book I have has some appendices describing Ayn Rand’s philosophy of objectivism. I was surprised at one part of her philosophy. I have been a student of metaphysics for a while now and in her story she seemed to value the ability of her heroes to create using only the power of their minds. However in her statement of philosophy, she says that it is not possible to alter reality through the power of the mind.

In her story, Dagny Taggert creates a rail road where none existed before. Hank Reardon creates a metal that had not existed before. John Galt creates an entire utopian city. Each of her heroes uses the power of their minds to create something that had not existed before. However in her philosophy statement she clearly details that she does not believe it is possible to change reality by thinking it to be otherwise.

I think that she is referring to the same metaphysical teachers that I get annoyed with who seem to teach that all you have to do is sit on the couch and visualize and riches will come to you. I agree with her on part of her philosophy. I actually suspect we believe same things just expressed in different terms. Maybe that is why she chose to write a story to illustrate her philosophy.

Atlas Shrugged

I began reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged while on a trip to the beach. I was interested in reading the book because I see it referenced by many business coaches and some politicians. I have always felt left out when people ask “Who is John Galt?”

One the surface the story is of big business struggling to operate in an oppressive political climate. But there is much more to the story. Rather than being a traditional battle between good and evil, it is the battle of moochers and looters versus the producers. I have only made it through part one so far. There are three parts to the book.

It is a very intense book to read and has made me stop and think about how I really feel about things. I found out there is a movie but it is only in limited release. Maybe I can get the DVD when it comes out.

My new Favorite Meditation

My new Favorite Meditation

I recently decided to return to my study of Taoism. Taoism has always appealed to me because of their scientific approach to philosophy. Lao Tsu and the other writers took a lot of time to study plant and animal life to see what works and what does not. They developed very workable practices that really help maintain a strong and healthy mind and body.

I recently read an interesting article by Michael Winn where he talks about smiling to your internal organs. He explains the Taoist philosophy of acceptance very succinctly with the concept of smiling. By smiling he means that we simply acknowledge that a certain condition exists and we smile with no judgment. A thing or event is neither good nor bad, it just is. I find I can save a lot of mental and spiritual energy when I stop judging things as good or bad and just accept them.

So the meditation I have begun to use based on Winn’s ideas and my previous Taoist studies is to simply talk to my body. I like to carry on a conversation with all my body parts.

Since I have had some pain and discomfort in my right foot lately I usually begin there. The conversation goes something like this:

Hey foot. How are you doing down there? I notice that you are sending a lot of interesting signals lately. I really appreciate how you carry me around and support me. I really appreciate all the little tiny bones that have to intersect just right to do all the amazing task that you accomplish all day long. I am really thankful that I have you to carry me around like you do.

My foot rarely talks back, but I can tell it responds well to being appreciated. The pain usually goes away quickly as I stop thinking about it and think about the entire task my foot performs for me.

One of the concepts that I really like in Winn’s article was not condemning body parts that don’t work up to our expectations. He even speaks of welcoming and loving malfunctioning parts like tumors and infections. These are part of our bodies and are there for a reason. If we act with malice towards these parts, they respond in kind. However if we act in love toward these parts, they adapt and rejoin the working collective of our body.

I recently had a sinus headache. Normally all I want to do it get rid of the swelling. I have tried all sorts of herbal remedies and then usually resort to pseudoephedrine. But this time I had a loving conversation with my sinuses. It went something like this:

Ok Sinuses, I know you are irritated. I have been irritated at a lot of things lately but I am working to just let them go. I really appreciate the way you try to protect me by filling with fluid. I know the sensation of swelling that I feel is your way of letting me know what is going on. I really appreciate all you do with the filtering of each and every breath. I know that you do a lot of other tasks that I don’t even understand. And I just want you to know that I appreciate all you do. If you feel the need to swell up to protect me, then have at it. If however the threat is over, let’s just relax and let our guards down. I am going to just lie down for a while and let you do what ever you think is best.

In far less time than it would have taken for the sinus medicine to digest, my headache was gone. I never got any real answers form my sinuses, but the pain went away and I felt like my sinuses worked better and felt appreciated.

I am finding a lot of clarity in taking time to sit and talk with my body and its organs. I really like the concept of not condemning body parts but loving all of them no matter what their shape or form. I am working on loving the excess fat around my belly. I am telling it that I really appreciate the protection is giving me. If it feels the need to stick around, that is fine. However if its job is done, then the fat can be redistributed to other places in my body or used up as fuel. But I am leaving the detail up to the belly fat cells to decide. I am appreciating their presence and respecting their right to be there. I am no longer fighting to get them to leave. I simply love them for who they are.

I feel much more at peace with my self and with my body. I don’t feel like I need to struggle anymore.

I think this meditation and coming to peace within my body is going to help me be more at peace with my external world as well. It will be an interesting trial at least.

Tornado Safety

Finding the safest place during a Tornado

As the storm moved into our area of Cleveland Tn and Bradley county, there was a lot of talk about tornado safety and the safest places to hide during a tornado. The weather men warned to stay away from windows and exterior walls. They warned to stay out of cars and to seek shelter in underground areas and interior rooms like the bath room.

As I drove through the devastated areas to reach the house where I was helping clean up, I was amazed at the destructive power of the tornado. I have come to the conclusion that short of an underground storm shelter, there is no safe place to be when a tornado strikes.

I have often disagreed with the advice of not sheltering in a car. After all, cars are designed for high speed impacts. However, after seeing Bill Maxwell’s Lincoln, I have changed my mind. He told me that just a few minutes before the storm hit he had been sitting in his car listening to the weather reports. He lost reception so he had just made it to his bedroom when the tornado stuck his house.

His Lincoln Town Car, is now a ball of metal sitting in his pasture about a quarter of a mile from his house. The roof is crushed down to the level of the seat. I don’t think even a belted in occupant would have survived the tumbling and crushing of the car.

I still think my race car with a full cage might have fared better, but a normal car is definitely not a safe place. The repeated pounding of the tumbling action completely crushed the passenger compartment of the car.

Another part of a house that seems safe is the fireplace. After all the brick structure is often seen standing long after the rest of a house has rotted away. However, at Bill’s house, the fireplace was cleaned to the concrete base by the winds and parts of the brick chimney were strewn all through the pasture.

Yet another place that people often find shelter in a storm in inside a bathtub. While there have been numerous reports of people riding out the storm in their bathtubs, Bill’s bath tub was found a couple of hundred yards away from his house. I don’t think that would have been a safe ride either.

Bill was in his bedroom when the storm ripped his house apart around him. The four walls of the bedroom were the only thing left standing at his house. He told me he climbed out form where the exterior wall had separated form the foundation. He was greeted there by his dog.

He said he did not know where the dog was during the storm, but he had somehow found a safe place. Based on what I saw while cleaning up the damage at Bill’s house, the only safe place to be is where you are. Apparently if you are protected from damage, you will be safe where ever you are. I think it was Bill’s attitude that protected him more than any of the building parts.